Voters who place a premium on education, and want to support candidates who champion education, have a new tool: Ohioballot.com.
The site allows Ohio voters to enter their address, then receive a customized sample ballot showing which candidates have been recommended by their local educators as “Champions of Public Education.” If the sample ballot only shows statewide candidates, but not any legislative or state school board contenders, that means there are no down-ballot candidates who have been recommended. The website has been paid for by the Ohio Education Association.
OEA Executive Director Sheryl Mathis said the group views the website as a public service that will help voters make better informed choices and encourage them to finish their ballots from top to bottom.
“Who better understands teaching and the support our public schools need to serve all of Ohio’s students than our dedicated public school educators? For the first time, Ohioballot.com will allow all Ohioans interested in supporting our public schools to know which candidates Ohio’s educators have recommended as “Champions of Public Education,” Mathis said.
The new site comes as legislators continue to support failing charter schools and regulators continue to soft-peddle a growing array of charter school scandals.
This past week, a Cincinnati Enquirer investigation found that Concept Schools, which runs Horizon Science Academies and Noble Academies in Ohio, imports dozens of foreign teachers in numbers that far surpass any other school system in Ohio. The newspaper discovered that some of the teachers have a poor grasp of English and some lack the qualifications required to hold teaching jobs.
The expose was the latest in a string of revelations about the chain, which has ties to Islamic cleric Fethulla Gulen. Earlier this year, the FBI raided four Gulen-affiliated schools in Ohio, and a panel of teachers who once worked for the Dayton Gulen school told the state school board that they personally witnessed everything from test tampering to sexual misconduct in the classroom.
Although a member of the state school board ask the panel to investigate all 19 Gulen-affiliated schools, it initially confined the probe to just the Dayton school. When new cheating allegations surfaced, the state expanded the probe to schools in Columbus and Cincinnati.